What is the state of data maturity in the enterprise? That’s the question that Carruthers and Jackson sought answers to with this week’s publication of its inaugural Data Maturity Index, which is based on surveys of hundreds of data leaders. While a majority of organizations show relatively high maturity in some areas of data, there are many areas that require more work.
The drive to become “data driven” is nearly ubiquitous in business these days, thanks to the presence of massive amounts of digitized information and the ready availability of sophisciated tools and technologies like machine learning and advanced analytics to make sense of it. But without adequate investments in the people, processes, and tools necessary to put the data in order, most companies will fail to reach their data-driven dreams.
These are the broad areas that the UK data consultancy Carruthers and Jackson sought to investigate with its first ever Data Maturity Index. C+J actually explores data maturity through four “lenses” in its 27-page report, including tools (technology, metrics, architecture), purpose (strategy, risk, and governance), people (skills, behavior, and leadership), and method (policies, framework, and organization).
The results of the survey confirmed some preconceived notions about where companies are in their data journeys, but also carried some surprises.
For instance, organizations show fairly decent maturity when it comes to tools, according to the index. C+J’s survey found that 63% of data leaders believe technology available to their organization “mostly helps” their use of data. About one-quarter of respondents say it mostly hinders, while around 5% say it “overwhelmingly hinders” and “overwhelmingly helps.”
“This [shows] there has been a strong emphasis on tooling in recent years, with many organisations moving to cloud storage and implementation of effective data and analytics tools,” the company says in a press release.
The consultancy also concluded that there are concerns with how data flows through organizations, which reflects on the data architecture the organiations has chosen to build higher-order data products upon.
For instance, its survey found that 41% reported that data does not flow efficiencly or is not secure, while 15% reported that the data journey and security “are not clear.” Only 4% reported that data always flows quickly and securely, while 40% say data mostly flows quicklyi and securely, “with some notable exceptions.”
More work is required in the other aspects of data maturity, including purpose, in which C+J attempts to measure to what extent an organization’s data and business goals are on the same page.
For example, only 40% of data leaders said their organizations had “little to no” established data governance framework. Another 44% of survey respondents said they only consider data risk within the confines of a regulatory framework, which potentially leaves them considerably exposed to “holistic data risk,” C+J says.
Only 27% reported that their data risk is well managed and incorporated within an enterprise approach to risk management, with customizations as needed for specific departments, which is to be considered the gold standard here.
There is an impedance mismatch at work between the desire to use data to improve the organizations operations on the one hand, and the regulatory and reputational risks posed by potentially mismanaging the data.
“Fundamentally, there is a lack of understanding about the link between freedom to use data creatively and the quality of its management and governance,” Andy Lunt, a data management director with C+J, says in the report. “Governance is seen as ‘too big a job,’ which stems from ‘the fact that many organisations think the aim of governance is to fix all of their data. Instead, governance should be well targeted and take a pragmatic approach to fixing real business problems.”
The people involved in your data operations are critical to success. After all, data doesn’t analyze itself. But once again, there is room for improvement in the personnel department when it comes to data maturity, C+J finds.
Data literacy is a requirement for success, but 64% of data leaders say most or all of their employees are not data literate, whereas 30% say most of their employees are data literate. Without data literacy, it’s unlikely that organizations are going to make much headway in reaching their data goals.
Data literacy is much more than just being able to use data technology or using analytic tools, says Mark Bates, a senior consultant with C+J.
“It helps address those fundamental questions of why data is valuable, how to enquire and question it and also to establish what every individual’s personal responsibility to data is,” Bates says in the report. “It fundamentally cuts across strategy, leadership, governance, organisation as well as technology and is intrinsically linked to them.”
When it comes to methods used to turn data into intelligence, there is more work to be done, the Maturity Index shows.
For instance, nearly half (46%) of data leaders say their organization’s data strategy sits outside of their operating model. In other words, key decisions about the data are being made by folks who aren’t directly involved with the group or department that owns the data or is seeking to use it. (On the bright side, at least these organizations have a data strategy, because another 29% say their organizations “has no data strategy at all,” C+J states).
“The fact so many data leaders report that their data strategy is bolted on to the side of their organisation’s operating model is something we see reflected across sectors,” C+J Product and Strategy Director James Miller says in the report. “It is a reality that frustrates the effective management and use of data. It is little surprise that a focus for many data leaders is on devising approaches such as data as a product, built around people, technology, and processes, that truly bring data and the business closer together.”
Taken as a whole, there is considerable work to be done before organizations can really claim that they have got a full handle on their data. There are serious deficiencies in terms of the skills, methods, and purposes that organizations are bringing to bear on their data challenge and opportunities.
“Despite it being a near universally acknowledged truth that successful, modern businesses need to use their data effectively, our first Data Maturity Index reveals that organisations are still falling short when it comes to data operations,” C+J co-founder and CEO Caroline Carruthers states in a press release.
“Having worked with hundreds of organisations to support their data transformations, we wanted to use our model to understand what’s really going on and share this information with the community,” she continued. “The most important takeaway is that data leaders need more support to ensure that existing employees understand what data can do for them and their departments. This is critical before a data transformation can take place; team members at every level of an organisation must have the foundational ability to understand, work with, analyse, and communicate with data.”
You can access a copy of the report here.